The Boy Magician

      In the heart of a wilderness, there once lived an old woman and her young grandson.  Both of the boy's parents were dead, but from his father he had inherited some magical skills, so that his grandmother used to call him "my young magician."  They were happy enough in their life together.  By day, the old woman would be busy with cooking and cleaning, while the young boy went hunting to catch food for their table.
      Often the grandmother would talk about the time when the boy would be ready to go out into the world.  "Always go to the east," she would say.
    "Never go to the west, for that way lies danger."  But no matter how often the boy asked her, she would never say what kind of danger lay to the west. And as he grew older and stronger the boy thought that one day he would have to go and find out for himself.
      One day the old woman said again, "Never go to the west." But this time  her grandson - who was by now a young man - would not rest until he had an answer from her.  At lost, reluctantly, she said, "There is a creature out there.  A terrible creature. it wants to do harm to everyone who sees it.
If you were to go near it, we should both be killed."  More than that she would not say, but her words only made the young man want to go and find out about this creature.  He trusted his strength and skill and his knowledge of magic, to keep both himself and his grandmother safe.
     And so, when he set out next morning to go hunting, as soon as he was out of sight of his grandmother's lodge, he turned west.  All day he traveled and saw nothing.  Then he came to the edge of a lake, where he decided to rest.  He had not been there long when he suddenly heard a strange voice.  "I see you," said the voice.
     The boy looked all around him and at the sky, but he could see no one.     "Where are you?" he asked.
     "Where you cannot see me," answered the voice.  Then it said, "I am going to send a hurricane.  It will smash your grandmother's house to pieces. How do you like that?"
     "Why, thank you," said the boy. "We are always needing firewood.  Now  we shall have plenty."
     "Go home," said the voice.  "I dare say you won't like it that much."
     So the boy hurried home.  When he was almost in sight of the lodge a great wind blew up from nowhere.  It rooted trees out of the ground and threw rocks about as though they were pebbles.  The boy's grandmother looked out and saw him coming.  "Quickly," she cried.  "Get inside before you are killed."
     As soon as he was inside the old woman began to scold him.  "You have    been to the west," she said.  "Now we are both going to die."
    "Don't worry, grandmother," said the boy. "I shall use my magic to turn the walls of the lodge to stone."  He spoke some magic words and though the hurricane blew as strongly as it could, it could not even move the stone lodge.  When it had blown itself out, the old woman and the boy went outside and found enough firewood to last them for a month.
     The next day the boy was ready to go to the west again.  But his grandmother begged and pleaded with him until he promised to go east instead.  He set out that way, but soon his feet turned west again and he found himself back at the lake.  He looked all around and could see nothing. Then he heard the strange voice again.  "I'm going to send a great storm of hail to destroy your grandmother's lodge.  What do you think of that?"
     "I should like that," said the boy.  "I need some new spears."
     "Go home then," said the voice, "but I don't think you'll be so pleased."
     The boy hurried home and, just as he was nearing his grandmother's     lodge, the sky got very dark.  Huge hailstones the size of boulders began     to fall out of the sky.  The boy ran as fast as he could and got safely into  the lodge where his grandmother waited.  "Now we shall surely die, "the old woman cried.
     But once again the boy used his magic and turned the walls of the lodge to stone.  The hailstones banged and rattled against them, bouncing off harmlessly.  When the storm was over, the boy came out of the lodge and saw that there were dozens of sharp, glittering spearheads sticking in the ground.  He ran to get poles to fit them to.  But when he returned the spear-
    heads had vanished.  "Where are all mg beautiful spears?" he demanded.
     "They have all melted away," said his grandmother.  "They were only
    made of ice."  The boy was very disappointed.  He began to wonder how he could get his revenge on the owner of the voice.  "Don't be so foolish," his grandmother said.  "Take my advice and leave well alone."
     But the boy was determined to be avenged.  He took a special stone that was full of magic and hung it around his neck on a thong.  Then he set off back to the lake.  This time he went as stealthily as he could and, when he arrived at the lake, he crouched down behind a big rock and looked carefully around him.
     At first he saw nothing, then, as he was watching, he saw a horrible head   pop up out of the middle of the lake.  It had a face not only on the front, but on the sides and back as well.  Eight e-yes, eight ears, four noses, four mouths.  "I see you," cried the youth.  Then he said, "How would you like it if this lake dried up?"
     "Nonsense," said the ugly head, speaking out of all four of its mouths. "That could never happen."
     "Go home and see," shouted the boy, imitating the head. Then he took the stone from around his neck and threw it up into the air.  As it went up it got bigger and bigger, and when it fell in the lake it made a great splash.  At once the water began to boil and bubble and the head made a great roaring sound.
     The boy ran away home as fast as he could and told his grandmother what had happened.  "It's no good," she said.  "Others have tried to kill him, but they have all died."
     Nonetheless the boy decided to go back to the lake the next day. When he arrived he found the lake had boiled away entirely and that all the creatures  in it were dead - except for a big green frog that was hopping weakly about    in the middle.  The boy looked at it and knew that this was what the creature that had plagued him was realty like.  He took a big stick and went to kill it.
     "Please spare me," cried the frog in a little voice, not at all like the one it  had used to terrify so many people.  But the boy thought of all those who had been killed by the monster, and he struck the frog with his stick and killed it.
    Then he went home and told his grandmother all that had happened.  After that they lived in peace, and now the old woman calls her grandson     "my great big magician," because of the good use to which he had put his     magic.




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